In marriage, golden jubilee anniversaries do happen

Published: April 8, 2012
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Ours was definitely a marriage made in heaven; all 50 years of our companionship were heavenly. She was like my good luck charm. PHOTO: REUTERS

Sometimes memories of the years that have passed roll on in front of our eyes like old black and white movies. On April 8, every year since 1962, I have felt that way and am reminded each year of the day I married my beloved wife. This year is our golden jubilee anniversary, and I plan to celebrate it with my wife by my side, God willing.

On this day, I intend to invite our relatives and friends, not to celebrate the day we got married, but the happy days we have spent together and how we have made an impact on each others’ lives.

My wife has been suffering from gall bladder cancer for the past two years, and is now at the final stage. I have been told by doctors that poisonous putrid fluids have entered her stomach lining, and that she is not responding to chemotherapy any more; there is no cure for this stage of cancer and they have done all that they can to help ease her pain.

A senior physician at the hospital kindly took me to the side and said:

We cannot fight God.

At this point I asked the doctors if the treatment may be stopped, but they advised against it.

If you do that, you could not possibly imagine the pain she would have to go through. It would be like an animal tearing at her body and flesh. However, inoculations and medicines would lessen the intensity of the pain.

Several people, well wishers, suggested we try homeopathy. We gave it a shot by consulting a homeopathic doctor recommended to us, because she was reputed to have cured many cancer patients.

Maybe she could have beaten the disease had we gone earlier, but I would not know that now…

It was during her treatment that her tumour marker (CA 19.9) shot up and has not come down since then. When the tumour marker reading continued rising, the doctors told me they had given it their all but there was nothing that they could do anymore.

It was an arranged marriage.

I hadn’t met my wife before the wedding, and some may disagree, but the old saying that ‘marriages are made in heaven’ fits us just perfectly. Ours was definitely a marriage made in heaven; all 50 years of our companionship were heavenly.

She was like my good luck charm. After we got married, I reached a stage in my job that was one step below the highest possible the civil services could offer.

Besides that, during our lifetime together we were able to help our four beautiful children get married and settle down. Our two boys are happily married to girls of their mother’s choice, and our daughters have settled in well with their respective husbands.

Like every marriage, we too had our disagreements, mostly concerning our children’s education. She wanted me to spend time at home and teach our children. But due to the nature of my job, I had to remain outdoors and could not manage this. But this, along with any other petty issues, we learnt to overcome. Together.

Unfortunately, my youngest daughter’s first marriage fell through because of misperceptions we had about the boy. Things we had been told by the boy’s father turned out to be untrue, and all the brilliance he had proclaimed was a façade. She was married to a man living in Turkey. We were told he was a physician, but in truth he earned his living providing private tuition in English. It was only when my daughter got married and arrived in Istanbul that we realised that his income was not enough to support both of them, and my daughter would have to call her mother for money every second month to pay for the rent and food. Some days, she would be left at home, starving, while the boy went out to eat, not bothering to feed his wife or the daughter he fathered and one day he simply disappeared. We have not heard from him since. It has been 17 years now.

In an attempt to find him, we requested the Pakistani Consulate General in Istanbul to try and locate him at various addresses we provided, but to no avail. Eventually, we married our daughter off to a man who lives in Dubai and they come to visit us fairly often.

The lesson we learnt from this experience – which everybody else should also learn is – don’t give your daughter in marriage to a boy unless you have seen the boy living with his parents. Notice his behaviour and upbringing at home and how he treats his relatives. That is an early reflection of his values and how he will eventually treat his own wife and kids. This is the same advice I would like to offer to all others who may be thinking of marrying their daughters to boys living abroad. Every marriage is a gamble, but it would be best to know the groom and his family thoroughly before making such a big decision.

Anyway, my spouse and I have lived as good companions. It has been a life without severe disagreements. We have enjoyed each other’s company and respected one another through times of hardship and those that brought us joy.

Although this is just a story of an ordinary person,  I hope that some lessons of life are taken from our mistakes for those treading this path, and are an inspiration for those who think marriages don’t last.

Ours did, for 50 wonderful years.

But as Shakespeare once said,

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

Jonaid.Iqbal

Jonaid Iqbal

The author retired as Additional Secretary in the year 2000, after having served stints at high and low positions at Chittagong, Dhaka,Islamabad, Karachi, and Rawalpindi. He is an alumni of Dhaka University.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.